Skip to comments.A lot to A.N.S.W.E.R. for
Posted on 05/05/2003 11:12:38 AM PDT by yonif
Israel-bashing figures prominently in 'teach-ins' where San Franciscans seek a flavor of the Vietnam era
Let's admit it - San Francisco is gorgeous, and deserves its name as the capital of resistance to what the US is trying to do in the Middle East. After all, while other places from coast to coast had rallies and marches before and during Operation Iraqi Freedom, only there were thousands "hauled off by the pigs" for blocking the financial district, and only there was there a rally and march almost every Saturday for weeks and weeks until Saturday, April 19.
But were all the local protesters hung up on the Zionist conspiracy? No, I can report they weren't. Sure, among the placards bobbing and waving in the Civic Center and up and down Market Street you saw the occasional "Free Palestine!" or "It's not about oil, it's about Israel!" There was also an individual dressed like Uncle Sam carrying a flag on which the 50 stars had been pasted over with Stars of David. And so?
Even at a "teach-in" held by A.N.S.W.E.R. at the Horace Mann school in the Mission on the 19th, just one "workshop" out of five was devoted to Israel, Palestine, Zionism, etc. Teach-in? During the Vietnam war that's what they called it when experts gave marathon lectures to students and the public on what really was going on and what had to be done.
A.N.S.W.E.R.? That's an acronym for Act Now to Stop War & End Racism, the Marxist-Leninist outfit behind those demos nationwide.
The Mission? A Mexican village plunked into the city with a good sprinkling of Anglos either too broke to live elsewhere or charmed by the feel of the barrio.
Horace Mann? Dead Anglo educator, 1796-1859. Anyway, Horace Mann's auditorium was two-thirds full and draped with the banners, "US out of the Middle East!" and "Workers and oppressed peoples of the world unite!" The latter saying is Lenin's, but it wouldn't be right to dub the people who'd come "useful idiots," as he of course dubbed liberals who helped his party.
Most of your attendees were hard-Left. So there were Birkenstocks, flannel shirts, keffiyehs, no Armani, little if any Botox. Whether Anglos - this includes most people of Jewish background now - or Latinos or Blacks or Palestinians, they'd gathered when the US had won the military phase of the war and the question was and is if the movement A.N.S.W.E.R. put itself at the head of by organizing 24-7 is going to last or evaporate.
The main pre-workshops speech was given by A.N.S.W.E.R. higher-up Richard Becker. He repeated what everybody knew - the US slaughter of the Iraqis wasn't just for the fun of it, but to snatch oil, benefit Halliburton and grow the empire.
Yes, the millions who rallied worldwide had failed to stop aggression, he said. But the Iraqi people - those not slaughtered - were demanding the US get out, and as the US does nothing of the kind the antiwar, anti-imperialist movement at home will flourish. Just don't lose heart! And don't be suckered by any Democratic, liberal, mainstream politicians who'll try to co-opt it, said Becker. All the great victories - unions, civil rights, Vietnam, women's and gay and lesbian rights - were thanks to non-mainstream folks.
HE THEN explained why Palestine is so important. Without destroying Palestinian resistance to Israeli oppression, the Bush cabal won't be able to realize its goal of subjugating the Middle East. That's why it lets Sharon do what he does. So far, unlike in the rest of the world, many elements in the US have shied away from the issue. This is wrong and must change! Justice for Palestine! Yes to self-determination! No to racism! Loud cheers.
Next, before the workshops, everyone shmoozed in the corridors, and grazed the refreshments table with its organic apple juice and homemade walnut-oatmeal cookies. You could eat and drink, and if you wanted, donate a buck or a penny. I noticed a friendly man selling books like The Communist Manifesto, and the newest Gore Vidal, plus works on the Middle East by Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, Israel Shahak, Benny Morris. The atmosphere was depressed, committed, upbeat, paranoid, relaxed.
All this was happening in a public school in the barrio on a day when the kids and teachers were missing. Nothing gleaming about it, but nothing vandalized either. You have the usual rows of lockers with their usual combination locks, the flags of all the countries south of the Rio Grande, handmade posters. For example: "I Have the Right to Be Happy and to Be Treated With Compassion in This School. This Means No One Will Laugh at Me or Hurt My Feelings." A message to students? Teachers? Who knows?
The workshops: The United States and the Middle East in Historical Perspective; Driving Forces of US Foreign Policy; Targets of US Aggression; The War at Home; US, Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Movement. Your reporter chose the last. We sat in this big circle in one of the classrooms. Everyone was on an equal footing, and it didn't matter if A.N.S.W.E.R. cadre made their statements first, dotting Becker's i's and crossing his t's before the masses had their say.
A movie star-handsome, American-born son of Palestinians explained how Israel functions as the ultimate manifestation of US imperialism. Then came a woman A.N.S.W.E.R.-ite who said she worked at the Rainbow Grocery and was organizing to have Israeli products removed from its shelves. A few of the groups on board were: American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee-SF, Jews for a Free Palestine, Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT) and Global Women's Strike. It's a women's issue, she said, because of the systematic rape of Palestinian women and girls by Israeli settlers and soldiers. To label a boycott anti-Semitic is to mix Zionism up with the Jewish people, which nobody decent would do. And so the floor was thrown open.
BUT WHY single out Israel? asked a Jewish male. Sure, God knows Israel's not perfect, but there are lots of imperfect countries. Why boycott Israel?
He got answers from both rank-and-file and cadre. A South African woman who identified herself as the child of Jews who'd known anti-Semitism in Europe said Israel deserves to be singled out because of the abominations it carries out with US funding. Somebody else pointed out that the Zionist state is uniquely illegitimate. And a young woman of color who'd be pretty if she wasn't so angry related to the Jewish fellow's meat-headed question by noting that Zionism is racism and the divestment-from-Israel campaign has to be considered in the same light as the very effective boycott of the old South Africa.
These answers were summed up by the workshop leader, a male Anglo cadre with a great big old tattoo on his arm. He said that Israel was born in and lives on ethnic cleansing. The antiwar movement has neglected spotlighting this. But it's not too late. And so it went.
The near-unanimous idea was that Israel is racist, monotheistic, fascist. Never mind the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Since a Jewish state ipso facto can't help being racist, and since, as one person said, there's nothing worse than racism, the solution isn't two countries but one. The Zionist state has to be replaced by something where ethnicity and religion don't matter. I say near-unanimous because as everybody was agreeing, the Jewish fellow responsible for that idiotic question was shaking his head.
And then a fellow of color, who turned out to be the son of a Moroccan Jew and a Parisienne, and who has the gentlest eyes, unloaded his own moronic question: If Israel goes, won't the Jews who've suffered throughout history be denied their legitimate right to self-determination? Groans.
One Palestinian-American - not the hunky one - said to murmurs of "that's right" that the Palestinians had nothing to do with the Holocaust and to chuckles that the Jews ought to have their state in Germany or Texas. Whereas the Hunk explained that while Jewish suffering touched him it didn't furnish a license for racism. The Zionist state has to go.
It was at this point that a non-cadre Anglo with a voice like a foghorn brought up the Zionist conspiracy. He reminded everybody that Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco liberal Democratic congressperson, had nixed any discussion of whether the Zionists were behind the war. That's how powerful the P.N.A.C. is. P.N.A.C.? The Project for a New American Century, a bunch of Jewish, er, Zionist neoconservatives like William Kristol who dominate the media, the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House and make sure the Israeli angle's kept hidden.
It took the French ambassador to London to ask the question: "Why go to war for this shitty little country?" Again, unanimity, except for that pair of head-shaking Jews, and maybe a cadre in glasses and Brooks Brothers jacket. While it was plain to him that a Zionist conspiracy was behind the war and the US occupation of Iraq, and that no amount of suffering can justify ripping off another's land, and that Israel is racist and disgusting, yes, while all that's plain, he had to take exception as an Afro-American to the French ambassador's words. "Shitty little country" was too much. And so it went.
THE ONLY confused goy was the Anglo who tried to frame a question about suicide bombers. He, like, didn't understand why they had to do that. Patiently various cadre and others explained it to him. When facing the world's fourth largest army, what choice do the Palestinians have but to turn their bodies into missiles? It's like the French resistance to the Nazis. The Hunk said it best: It's not for anyone in quiet San Francisco to judge what modes of resistance people under Israeli oppression choose. Whatever they choose is right. Our job is to support them.
As the first word had been the Hunk's so was the last. The name of the game is human rights, he told the circle. Human rights versus racism. We have to keep plugging away at that, repeating and repeating it, driving it home so more and more Americans understand.
When our session ended I buttonholed Foghorn to ask if he thought the Elders of Zion are behind the Project for a New American Century, The man is actually quite nice. He told me he'd never read The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, that the only copy he has is in Spanish, and he doesn't know Spanish, and then went farther - he told me he'd heard The Protocols were a forgery and he doesn't really believe in conspiracies. It's more of a hobby than anything else. Once it was the JFK assassination. Then it was the Trilateral Commission. Now it's the P.N.A.C. You see, it's like this... A nice man, not a genuine nudnik, just a little hard to shake once you get him talking, which is easy. I did shake free.
The climax in the auditorium when the other workshops let out was entitled "Next Steps for the Antiwar Movement." You'll forgive me if I didn't sit in on it. How good the sunshine of the Mission was! And yet, Comrade Becker is right about one thing: It's early days. What the hard Left dreams of may come to pass and Iraq's Shi'ites, having been liberated, may start blowing up GIs, Marines, Americans in general. That's what Lebanon's Shi'ites did to the IDF after they'd been liberated. In fact, that's what they did to 243 "peace-keeping" Marines in Beirut one Sunday morning 20 years ago, inspiring Reagan to get out double-quick. George W. Bush won't be able to leave at the first sign of a quagmire, having vowed to create a New Middle East.
May I be frank? I worry that if a quagmire develops A.N.S.W.E.R.'s prayers will be answered, the demos will resume in force and the mainstream will be open to questions about whose idea this was in the first place.
Worrying maybe unnecessarily, I hurried to the Rainbow Grocery - very organic, not cheap, guarded by schnorrers with Dixie cups - and purchased a bag of what I was told was Israeli couscous.
Wait a second, since when did anyone from the ANSWER crowd actually work?
Frightening how much they consider themselves to be morally superior and enlightened. Like they are adults speaking to children. Monstrous hatred for all things Jewish. (And they don't even have the gonads to just come out and say it.)
After all, they are the ones combating racism, not the ones promoting it. Heaven forbid they say anything racist. /sarc
In effect, the lunatic left has adopted a Domino Theory (like Vietnam) that requires them to support Palestinian arabs in order to prevent Western imperialism's relentless expansion.
I guess they don't realize that they have been outflanked in Iraq by American-imposed democratization.
These people are down right scary. The fact that they consider Vietnam a "victory" makes my blood boil. To them, thousands of dead American servicemen is a desirable outcome. My heart breaks for all who fought in Vietnam and died, or who came home to be treated like garbage by these freaks.
Please, tell every soilder,marine,sailer you see, "Thank you".
Why isn't this considered "hate speech"? He's lying, inciting hate and fear and mistrust - against his own country, while defending those who murder and oppress....in a public school??? You can't even hold after-school Bible reading in public schools. What do you do if a state becomes a threat to our national security? California elected officials all still swear an oath to uphold and defend the US Constitution, right?
Vast WorldWide Commie Conspiracy.. that crosses international boundaries with impunity. Call them what you will but the agents of A.N.S.W.E.R must be outed and confronted wherever they are found.
Thanks for the post!
I love that line.
That's right on the mark Grandpa. Many respectable sounding charities may in fact be a funding source for ANSWER, or any similar organization. There are several charities that sound ok on the surface that are supporters of the local peace movement.
Before you give any money to any charity it may be a good idea to ask who they are affiliated with and who they share resources with. Be especialy careful with organizations who focus on homeless and poverty issues. It's a shame because many of these organizations are already pressed for funds and may truely serve the needy. They may not be aware of the link they may have with ANSWER. If that is the case, sharing this info with them may bring them to consider who they are aligned with.